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Or-Tal's Writings

entrepreneur/mother/education revolutionist/high tech addict

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peace

Collaborative Project: Humanity’s Face

There’s a say “when the guns are roaring the muses are quiet”. As if inspiration is out during times of war, when survival is what occupies our minds. Yet, some wonderful works of arts are known to be inspired by or created during war time. I’d like to say that I am inspired by peace, or rather by the hope for peace. My other source of inspiration is the urge to create games. Preferably have one ready in less than 3 months, for when I finish my 1-year game design program. HumanFace

So I came up with an idea to create a peace inspiring game. For this project to happen I need your help. Everybody’s help. I need photographs of faces, portraits of people of any age, color, race and sex. The photo needs to be a head shot only. No background or environment. I don’t need to have a name or any identifiers. Only city/country of residence or nationality. This is going to be a fun and simple look on human faces. Or humanity’s face. Please help me by sending your photos to: le_game@ymail.com and by sharing this post. Thanks.

Could better global education save us from terror?

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already. I will never forget this day. None of us will. We have been living under a terror attack ever since. Watching a 6 years old going through a public body search at Frankfurt airport, or an old lady struggling to take her shoes of for the security check at JFK. This is life under terror.

Looking at terrorists where ever they are, there’s one thing in common, defining terror, and that’s violence and a crave to kill. When you look at all these groups their goals melt in the background, as nothing more than excuses to get violent, kill and terrorize. Play god. Feel the power.

The world’s biggest mistake is by looking at each terrorist group or action as if it is a private war, concerning only the country where it happened. Obviously, attacking the US has turned it into a little more public affair. But if countries like our neighbors, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon think this giant terror tsunami does not concern them – then they are blind. Giving terrorists the power to get organized in order to attack and kill civilians – is basically giving them the power to organize a coo. Oops.

I remember watching it live
I remember watching it live

And I’m back to education.

Calling the whole world to start working on teaching the younger generations the basic human wrong and right. Killing – wrong. Talking – right. Conversing even better.

Education: give your younger generations knowledge and tools to build their lives, to develop, to earn a living, to be creative. Show them there’s a way to live your life without needing to fight, hate, kill, destroy. Teach them that revenge only generates revenge and more hate. No one wins.

When I look at where we are, a decade after this horrid 9/11, I can easily get hopeless. Has anything improved? Was there any change for the better for any population around the world following this attack? Did the terrorists gain anything? Did their pursuers?

What WILL make us a better world and change our lives for the better?

Only global education can save us. Real education. The kind which enables kids to learn, and not just be fed propaganda of hate and violence. Think about it when you watch the video clip below:

Earth day: 1. Education. 2. Peace. 3. Environment

So many teasers promoted earth day. One would have thought this could turn into a world wide environmental celebration. But as often happens with this type of events, it was mainly used from promoting this firm or the other for doing something irregular, like, cycling for office electricity or using the spinning gym to generate some power.

When asked to ponder about this day and say what it really means to me and what I’d like this day to be – I get to other places.

The first natural place I get to is Education on Earth. I have a dream in which every one on earth can get education, learn and evolve, communicate and connect. I think that if more people would be educated and knowledgeable then naturally the environmental awareness would increase. I think that given education more people on earth would be happier and kinder to each other and to our global nest. I think that education can get people more connected between them and with their surroundings, serving the Earth Day purpose.

The second place is naturally – peace. Peace should be a global task. In a peaceful earth countries wouldn’t have so spend so many resources on weapons or protection against weapons. More money would be left for education, health and yes – grooming the environment.

someone's home
someone's home

On the third place is the environment. Yes, I realize that on “Earth Day” environment was supposed to come first. But let’s admit it. It doesn’t, and placing it there for a single day or month wouldn’t change global priorities. Caring for the environment today is a luxury. If we want the environment to enter people’s priority, we must first attend to the people on this earth. People for people. Hungry people. Thirsty people. Homeless. Ill. How can one expect them to care for the environment? Only when people are cared for could they join in the thinking about the environment we all live in.

When Guns Roar – Muses are Silent

They say when the guns roar the muses are silent. It’s true. War is bewildering. Shocking. Can I really continue to write about networking, business, education and a brighter future today?

Can I do it and stay clear of politics? Can I continue my writing and my startup development and ignore the current affairs?

Well, not quite. But I will do my best… My muses aren’t at their best, and so what’s left is to share some fractions of thought.

What if education was different there? What if kids, of all ages, where given superior education, allowing them to develop professionally? What if education was to concentrate on such topic as global preservation and local development? What if Iran and Syria would allocate budget to schools, computers, teachers, universities, campuses, lawns, school equipment, books and crayons in stead of missiles?
What if?

In my mind kids from schools in Gaza do field trips in Jaffa, Haifa and visit the children’s museum in Holon. Kids from schools in Tel-Aviv do field trips to Gaza beach to explore nature and visit sites in Bethlehem. This could be the best place on earth to live in!

How I wish I could somehow contribute to the education of this region’s kids. Kids, really, want to play, socialize and study. They want to grow, develop and make friends. I’d just like to connect them all to one net, and study math together. Or history, geography, literature, poetry. And open discussions, calm and pleasant about anything: from football to fashion. And sing together. There’s such a huge potential here. Look!

And one more thought, the very basic thought that nags me all the time:
WHY?

Surprise: a game developer on the house…

I like surprises. I am not easily excited by surprises. But here is one that did get to me: The Peace Game that my daughter suggested. Check out this link.

She took me by surprise my daughter. After only a single encounter with a debate lesson, no real interest in politics and a couple of weeks following the mepeace.org network, she is sailing away to creating better, or promising, places.

It’s unlike http://www.peacemakergame.com/ , the first middle-east peace game, which can clarify the complexity of the peace making process, but was finished by my kids in about 20 minutes once they “figures out the trick”. Her thinking plays along the lines of D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) and real-people social networking the way she knows it, to the very real troublesome reality we live in and our aching wish for peace.

Enjoying her thinking, naivety and daring I would like to challenge the games development community, including some personal friends on this industry, to show off their abilities by contributing to this so important game idea.

So here is what she wants to do, quoting:
Preparations:
Create two groups, one represents Israel, the 2nd the Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians etc. (changeable). It is advisable that the number of Players will be equal in both groups or at least nearly equal.

The Game:
Each group needs to collect information on the country it represent and about its relationship with the negotiating country so it will select goals and issues, on which it can or cannot compromise. Information collected must also include internal groups of each country. When the two groups are ready the negotiation starts.
Each group presents its positions and demands and tries to accomplish the maximum achievement with minimum concessions, without forgetting that the goal is a peace agreement.

Winning:
The game is over when you reach a peace agreement. But it won’t be a game without a winner. Who wins? Not groups! Every team selects a winner from the opposing team, according to the efforts this person did or a crucial step that helped reach the agreement. In other words, the winner is the one that can teach our politicians a thing or two.

Important remark:
It is desirable that Israelis will be in the Arab groups and vice versa, as it is important to understand the other side.
When you sign up for the game please state on which team you prefer to be. Country selection will be made once the participants list is full (at least 10 members per team).

Groups are set on the mepeace.org web site.

Can the network do it? Peace on Earth?

I recently joined a social network called mepeace.org. This network, built on my favorite NING platform, suggests a platform for peace making in the Middle East. Let’s start by communicating, says Eyal Raviv, a relatively new immigrant from New-York and a former Yeshiva student who established this network about a year ago. The network now has 843 registered members to date and a nice regular rate of page hits a day.

Communicating is indeed one of the key factors of peace making. Without it there is no way for one party to understand the hopes, fears and constraints of the other side, both of which form the agreement environment.

Peace is a good, solid agenda. Not to mention sexy. In fact, world peace, and the Middle-East peace specifically, are so attractive that there are about a million web sites who offer various platforms for connecting Israelis, Palestinians and others for an open dialogue of some sort or method, aimed at reaching understanding or cooperation, which will lead to a peace agreement. Some of the sites offer online conversations while others only raise money and awareness online, but manage the dialogues in conferences, lunches and events, preferably further away from Sderot or Gaza.

Here are some examples randomly picked from the Google search results:

“The Middle East Peace Dialogue Network Inc” is a company founded by Richard C. Goodwin who was born in Philadelphia and lives in Snowmass Village, Colorado. His business is building, but he founded the organization, that according to their site  supports over 65 Israeli and Palestinian groups to promote peace.

“Scholars for Peace in the Middle East” is another Pennsylvania based organization with an interesting board of directors.

The Carter Center offers “conflict resolution” programs all over the world, including the Middle East. “One Voice” is an organization offering a little more content online. You can read about it here . Unlike other organizations they state: we are not a dialogue group. We are action oriented.

“Search For Common Grounds” was established in 1982 and aims at various conflicts resolution around the world. They have an office in Jerusalem. They have been active in the area from 1991 and increased their actions since 2000, especially through development of independent media solutions. Read here.

Facebook offers hundreds of groups dedicated to peace making in the Middle East. Some link to other sites like the pro-pro-pro group, with its 1739 members linking to http://www.btvshalom.org/, an organization with chapters in America, but not in the Middle East. Some are simpler groups like “This group supports peace between Israel and Palestine” with its discussion board open for its 850 members. There are groups who have thousands, tens of thousands and even more than 177 thousand members, all using the peace as an anchor.

Other groups who use peace as their key words are the hate groups. When you search Facebook for peace related groups you encounter many of those. No dialogue invitation there. A one sided collection of hate declarations and calls for violence, killing and destruction – and that’s it. The amount of hate promoted on Facebook questions this specific medium as a peace promoting environment.

Back to Mepeace. On their homepage you can find a calendar of peace related events in Israel, Palestine and the US. Following is the list of forum discussions started by members, called here “peacemakers”, who try to keep an optimistic air, in spite of difficult events that take place daily.

mepeace homepage

Of the recent forum discussions I especially like that little bit naïve, but so straight forward discussion  started by Marwa Yassine. She is a 22 year old student from Canada, who was born in Iraq, raised in Lebanon, never was in Israel or Palestine, and yet has a complete Palestinian identity based on the fact that her grandparents used to live in Haifa. This open communications, revealing thoughts and feelings of “the other side” does reach. I am not a political person. Can’t define a specific line of views. But communicating with Marwa and her friends makes a point: It’s time the Israeli and Jewish recognize the “Palestinian Zionism”. It’s exactly the same emotion that brought my ancestors from Poland, Russia and Germany to Israel at the beginning of the 20th century, after 20 centuries of exile. It doesn’t go away.

The big question is, can web 2.0  really contribute to advance a solution? Or are we aiming at web 21?

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